Monday, February 21, 2011

CHILDE OF FRANCE 358-1077

Chapter 2
Childe of France
Roman Empire/Dark Ages - 358-1077 (719 years)
Childe Family in Medieval France

After Jesus Christ established His church in the meridian of time, the scriptures reveal that there would soon be a "falling away," where many would "depart from the faith" (2 Thes. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1).  This process of apostasy commenced with the conquest of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire in 70, which terminated the primary base of operations for the Church of Jesus Christ.  Another factor that led to the apostasy was the widespread persecution of the saints across the Roman Empire, where many of the martyred apostles were never replaced.  As a result, the remaining bishops directed the church to the best of their abilities, but to no avail; the church was doomed to fragment because of the lack of centralized leadership and communication.  Hence, the Church of Jesus Christ fragmented into several schismatic sects, such as the Gnostic, Arian, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic traditions.

Although Christians continued to be persecuted throughout the roman Empire, their numbers exponentially grew until they became a leading force to be reckoned with.  By the time Constantine became emperor in 306, many of the troops that fought under his command as the General of the Northern Legions were already Christians.  From 306-312, the Emperor Constantine led these troops to Northern Gaul for the purpose of controlling the imperial border of the Rhine River.  The Germanic tribe of the Franks, which lived on the northeastern border of the Rhine, had been raiding and infiltrating the Roman side of the border.  After many bloody battles, Constantine subdued the northern border of Gaul, by driving the Franks to the northeast side of the river. 

Map of Frankish Foederati Territory
within Gaul of the Roman Empire
It is interesting to note the dynamics between the Romans and Franks during this time period, as everything would dramatically change for both of them in the future.  By 313, Constantine had returned to Rome as a Christian, where he legalized Christianity as a legitimate religion throughout the empire.  Within eighteen years, Constantine had set Christianity on the path to becoming the state religion of the Roman Empire by closing its pagan temples, which was further solidified by the emperor Theodosius in 382.  Although Christianity eventually became the state religion, this did not mean that all Christians adhered to the tradition in Rome.  In fact, Roman Catholicism was one of the smaller practices in comparison to the Arian, Gnostic, and Greek Orthodox traditions.  Hence, as Constantine left the northern border of Gaul in 312 to revolutionize the Roman Empire, within a few decades, the Franks would start an expansion that would eventually envelope almost everything that Constatine had transformed.

By the middle of the fourth century, the Germanic tribe of the Franks had continued their raiding and pillaging across the Rhine River, where they ultimately overwhelmed the Roman Empire.  As a result, the Emperor Julian sued for peace in 358 by giving the Franks the land of Toxandria, which was located between the Meuse and Schelde Rivers in modern-day Belgium.  For the first time in Roman history, a Germanic tribe had settled within the borders of the Empire, which would eventually change the course of Western Civilization.  Although a concession was made in 358, the terms of this Foederati treaty required the Franks to assist in maintaining the border by providing soldiers for the Roman legions of the Rhine region.  Thus, the mid-4th century marks the official commencement of the Germanization of the Roman Empire, where the barbarian Franks would now partake of the fruits of their civilized counterparts.
Contemporary Sources that Validate
the Early Merovingian Historicity

Perhaps the sweetest fruit that the Franks enjoyed is the recording of their history in Latin by the end of the fourth century.  Although the Gallo-Roman chroniclers from the 4th-6th centuries recorded the royal pedigrees of the Franks, which extended back to the time period of Christ, most scholars today do not accept these pedigrees because they are not validated by contemporary sources.  This is not to say that there is not any truth pertaining to these pedigrees, but rather, there is no verifiable way to determine whether or not their ancestors really existed.  Nonetheless, it is probable that most of these pedigrees are accurate, based on the fact that anthropologists around the world have proven that the majority of history declared in oral tradition is mostly factual based on indigenous methods of reciting songs and poems.  Hence, for the purpose of this book, these lineages are recognized as such, yet will focus only on those pedigrees that can be validated by multiple sources of contemporary chroniclers.

Left: Plaza of Tournai
Right: Faramund First Recorded Frankish Ruler

The first Frankish leader that is corroborated by various historians living during the same time period is Farmund, who appears to have had contacts in Southern France as well as Toxandria.  These records reveal that Faramund ruled over the majority of the Salian Franks, not as a king, but rather as a chieftain lord.  At this time, the rulers of the Germanic tribes did not consist of kings, because they were no consolidated under one rule, and were simply divided by clans and confederations.  Within the Salian Franks, it is evident that Faramund rose to prominence by slowly subjugating the other Frankish clans around him.  Sometime during his rule, the Foederati territory that Faramund ruled over in the Kampen area of Toxandria started to encroach upon the Roman lands of Belgica Secunda.  Thus, by 430, the capital of the Salian Franks had been moved to the Tournai region of the Schelde River, where the Franks began fighting the Romans once again.

It was during the 20-year reign of Faramund's son Clodius that the Roman lands of Belgica Secunda were subdued.  The Franks fought their Roman counterparts in ferocious battles, gaining control of the entire Schelde River Valley.  As a result, the Salian Franks were now masters of their own geographically distinct region within the Roman Empire.  However, Clodius never ruled as a king, because there were still many clans within the Foederati territory of the Salian Franks that had yet to be subdued under one rule.  These clans came together in confederations when a non-Frankish enemy was involved, or when it served their own purposes.

Map of Germanic Migrations
into Western Europe in 5th Century

The Franks were not the only Germanic tribe to fight the Romans during the 5th century, while the western half of the Roman Empire was slowly crumbling.  In 418, the Visigoths were given the land of Aquitaine in Southern Gaul as Foederati territory, after which they slowly moved into northern Spain in the subsequent centuries.  By 455, the Germanic tribe of the Vandals ransacked and looted Rome, which gave rise to the term "vandalism" that we use today.  Other Germanic tribes, such as the Anglos, Saxons, Burgundians, and Ostrogoths, all filled the power vacuum that was left by the disintegration of the imperial regime.  Thus, by 476, the western half of the Roman Empire had been completely overrun, with no succeeding emperors to be appointed, thus marking the official date of the collapse.

Of all the Germanic tribes that settled within the Roman Empire, there is no doubt that the greatest of these tribes were the Franks, which came from the heartland of Germania.  It is most likely that the Franks were the direct descendants of Ephraim, due to the fact that they were the most ferocious of the Germanic tribes, thus enabling them to be the first to settle within Roman territory and conquer nearly all the other Germanic tribes.  Although the seeds of this prowess were planted with Faramund and Clodius, the consolidation of this power started with Meroveus and his son Childeric I, who is considered the first king of the Salian Franks.  While the 300-year dynasty of the Merovingian kings is named after the chieftain Meroveus, there is no evidence that he ever ruled as a king, due to the fact that the Salian Franks had yet to be consolidated under one rule.  It is probable that Childeric I named the dynasty after his father, in order to honor him because of his early death around 451.

Early Merovingian Capital of Tournai
on the Schelde (Childe) River
Childeric I was born around 430 in the capital of Tournai and witnessed the expansion of his father and grandfather into the Roman lands of Belgium.  Although the Schelde River Valley was controlled by the Salian Franks, the entire region of Belgium and Toxandria still consisted of tribal clans that made up a confederacy.  During his late teenage years, Childeric I traveled among the Salian Franks as a chieftain prince and united the different clans through both charisma and force.  The greatness of Childeric I as the first king of the Salian Franks can be seen by the river that still bears his name in the capital of Tournai, Belgium.  The Flemish spelling of the river "Schelde" clearly bears his name, where the Frankish tongue the "ch" is pronounced as a soft "sh" as in chivalry or Charlemagne.  As a result, the Child family has a river named after the first king in their ancestral line in northern Europe that still bears the proper pronunciation of the surname today.

There is no doubt that the Merovingian king title of Childe stems from the Frankish language.  Of all the Germanic dialects, Frankish is the only language that uses the soft "ch" in their king titles.  The manner in which Childe is pronounced today, with a hard "ch," is a linguistic derivation where a foreign word was anglicized in England during the Late Middle Ages.  The proper pronunciation of the Frankish king Childeric I would be "shield-de-ree" and Childebert would be "shield-de-bear."  Furthermore, the English word "shield" stems from the Frankish word "childe."  The etymology of the Childe name reveals that this title derives from two words that are compounded into one.  The first Teutonic word is "schil," which is a protector, covering, defense, or shelter.  The second Teutonic word is "ilde," meaning war, combat, or battle.  When schil+ilde are compounded the double (-il) is linguistically swallowed, thus creating a word that signifies "war protector" or "shield."
The Etymology and Linguistics
of the Frankish Warrior Title of Childe

Although the Frankish word Childe signified a "shield" in English, the warrior title has a dual connotation, which also means "young king."  The comparative and historical linguistics of the word "ilde" reveals a dual meaning that signifies "young," which is why the shield title signified both a young protector and a war protector.

It was common during the Merovingian dynasty for all Frankish kings to have warrior titles.  Many of these titles were taken from battle gear such as shields, swords, lances, daggers, knives, helmets, etc.  As a result, Childeric I was viewed as the young war protector or shield ruler of the Salian Franks. In 451, the leadership and bravery of Childeric I would be tested at the young age of twenty-one, when he would live up to his title as the shield protector of his people.

Of all the cruelest and most feared warriors that have ever used a scorched earth policy, Attila the Hun ranks in the highest category with those such as Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great.  The primary reason that Attila the Hun was feared across the entire Roman Empire was because he had never lost a battle.  After Attila swept across the northern reaches of the Empire, the Roman general Aetius called his two Foederati allies, the Franks and Visigoths, to come to his aid.  While Childeric's father and grandfather had fought against Aetius in Belgium, this was a time when their differences were set aside for the higher principle of maintaining the status quo.  As a result, the armies of Aetius, Theoderic I, and Childeric I met Attila the Hun around the Champagne region of Calons in 451, and gave Attila his only loss.  
Map of Frankish Battles and Expansion
outside the Foederati Territory

Although Aetius is usually given credit for the triumph, there is no doubt that there would have never been a victory if it were not for the bravery of Childeric I and his Franks, who surprised and assaulted Attila's army the entire night before the actual battle.


St. Brice Cathedral in Tournai, Belgium:
Burial of Childeric I - 481
The Battle of Chalons was the precursor of Attils's downfall and death that occurred two years later.  Many historians have ranked the Battle of Chalons in the top ten battles of world history based on the fact that Western Civilization would have been dramatically different if the Huns had conquered the Roman Empire.  Thus, Attila the Hun's only loss in battle was handed to him by a Frankish king who bore the warrior name of Childe and the battle standard of a rising eagle.  It is evident that the Germanic blood that flowed through the veins of Childeric I did not stop the Romanization of this barbarian until his death in 481.  His burial was discovered in the church of St. Brice in Tournai around 1653, with a ring on his finger that bore the latin inscription of "Childerici Regis."  Although Childeric I was buried in a military uniform of a Roman officer with the symbols of eagles, the importance of his Germanic or Ephraimitic side was evident with the internment of a bull's head and golden bullhorns in his burial.  Thus, Childeric I was the epitome of a transformed barbarian who changed his battle standard from the bull to the rising eagle, as a sign of being a civilized Roman.

While Childeric I reigned in Belgium during the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476, his treaty with the Roman General Syagrius, who controlled the Seine River valley around Paris, kept him in check until his death in 481.  However, when Childeric's son Clovis came to power, he saw that there was no point in honoring a treaty that he never made.  In addition, because the Romans had not filled the vacancy of the Emperor's chair for ten years, Clovis realized that the days of the Roman Empire had passed, which meant that the Franks were now the masters of their own domain.  As a result, Clovis and his Franks attacked the Romans in the Seine River Valley and defeated General Syagrius in 486 at the Battle of Soissons.  This pivotal battle officially marked the last Gallo-Roman authority in the Western Roman Empire, which brought about the Germanization of Western Civilization.

Map of Paris island first settled
by the Celts, Romans, and Salian Franks
Now that the Salian Franks controlled the Seine River Valley in northern France, along with the Schelde and Meuse River Valleys in Belgium, they had to send a sufficient number of Franks to maintain control over the Romans.  For this reason, Clovis decided to move the capital of the Salian Franks from Tournai to Soissons, and then to Paris.  Before this time period, the Roman capital of Northern Gaul was based in Soissons, which was about 60 miles to the northeast of Paris.  Although the city of Paris had been previously settled by the Gallic Celts, followed by the Romans, it was Clovis and his Franks who made it the first capital of modern-day France.

Clovis established his new kingdom on the island site of Paris, which had previously been fortified by the Romans when his father Childeric I besieged it in 464.  While Clovis maintained the fortifications of the island site, he expanded his new kingdom around St. Genevieve's Hill on the south bank of the Seine River, where he built many magnificent palaces and shrines. 

Southeast Bank of the Seine River
of the Merovingian Capital of Paris
Although Clovis is the ruler who is attributed for migrating into northern France, this Frankish expansion first started with his father Childeric I, who besieged the cities of Angers and Orleans along the Loire River in 463-464.  In addition, the defeat of the Visigoths and Saxons in the Loire River Valley by Childeric I was a major contribution to his son Clovis, who was able to easily subdue this region after becoming king.  As a result, the expansion of the Frankish state that covered the Meuse and Schelde River Valleys in Belgium, along with the Seine and Loire River Valleys in northern France, can clearly be attributed to the first two Frankish kings, Childeric I and Clovis.

Another contribution that Childeric I started, which paved the way before his son Clovis, was the Romanization of the Frankish people.  There is no doubt that Childeric I was the first Frankish ruler that embraced Roman customs, such as wearing the military uniform of a Roman officer and changing his battle standard from the bull to the rising eagle of the Roman legion.  In addition, it may not be a coincidence that Childeric I was buried in a Christian church, for he may have dabbled in the state religion of Christianity, thus adapting to more Roman Customs.

The reason that the adaptation to Roman life was such a pivotal point for the Salian Franks was based primarily on their barbaric heritage that was passed down through the bloodline of Ephraim.  When God withdrew himself from the Ephraimitic ancestors of Childeric I over a thousand years earlier, their state had become much worse, where "they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked, and ferocious" (Alma 47:36).  If the Lord did not introduce a more civilized life style to the Germanic barbarians, how else could the Lord keep his promise to redeem the seed of Ephraim in the latter days?  Because it took forty years of wandering to radically weed out one generation from the children of Israel, it would probably take much longer if it were line upon line, precept upon precept with one bloodline.  As a result, the Lord used the Greek and Roman byproducts of Western Civilization to start the redemption process of Israel.  It is astounding and perplexing to think how the Lord used the Gentile nations as an instrument in his hands to slowly weed out the hardened and impenitent state of the lost tribes of Israel.

Baptism of King Clovis I and 3000 Franks
in 496 by St. Remigiua
While Childeric I started the Romanization of the Salian Franks, it was clearly his son Clovis that solidified this process.  In 496, Clovis converted to the Roman tradition of Christianity by being baptized by St. Remigius, along with 3,000 of his closest Frankish followers.  There is no doubt that this single act by King Clovis changed the destiny of the Salian Franks and the course of Western Civilization. 

While the Germanic tribes of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Burgundians, and Lombards converted to the Arian form of Christianity, the Franks were unique in that they embraced the Roman tradition of Christianity.  This shared faith between the Franks and the Romans not only brought unity to the kingdom of Clovis, but may have also been a contributing factor that strengthened the Franks in their territorial expansion.  Because the Romanization of Childeric I and his son Clovis was only the first stage of redeeming Ephraim's bloodline, it is not surprising to learn that the first thing Clovis did after being converted was conquer his Germanic neighbors.  Clovis's faith was clearly Christian, but in his chest beat the heart of a Germanic warrior!

Map of Merovingian Europe
after the Collapse of the Roman Empire
In the fifteen years following the baptism of Clovis, he had quadrupled the lands belonging to the Merovian Kingdom.  His first conquest was over the Burgundian tribes around the Rhone River Valley of southern France in 500, which brought about their change from the Arian tradition to the Roman form of Christianity.  His next conquest occurred in Alemannia and Thuringia in 506, which may have been a follow up to the rebellions that occurred ten years earlier.  Clovis then fought the Visigoths in southern France in 507, where he drove them out of Aquitaine into Spain.  Because the Visigoths refused to be ruled by the Franks and their Roman tradition of Christianity, they fled from their capital of Toulouse and settled the new capital of Narbonne in Septimania.  The very last conquest of Clovis was among a sub-tribe of his own people in 510, who were the Ripuarian Franks of the Rhine and Mosel River Valleys of Austrasia.

The borders of the Merovingian Kingdom that Clovis defined during his rule remained virtually intact for more that two hundred forty years following his death in 511.  In addition, the capital that Clovis established in Paris has remained the capital of the western portion of his kingdom (France) to this day.  While Childeric I was buried near his namesake river in the former capital of Tournai, Clovis was the first Frankish king to be buried in Paris at the cathedral of St. Denis.  This cathedral was later referred to as the Royal Necropolis, due to the fact that almost every king of France has been interred here up to the French Revolution.

St. Denis in Paris: Royal Necropolis
Burial Place of Frankish Kings

After the death of Clovis, the Merovingian Kingdom was partitioned among his four surviving sons of Theoderic, Clothar, Childebert, and Clodomer.  The division of these lands did not follow the Roman tradition of falling to the eldest son, but rather adhered to the Frankish tradition of Salic Law.  As a result, there were now four kings that were collectively reigning one kingdom from the four capitals of Reims, Soissons, Paris, and Orleans.  Although each of these four capitals represented a quarter of the Merovingian Kingdom, there were no clear definitions as to their precise boundaries, which in turn created disputes.  In addition, the partitions that followed Salic Law ultimately weakened the Merovingian Kingdom, due to the rebellion of the Germanic people who were previously subjugated by Clovis.  For this reason, the four brothers had to subjugate their Germanic neighbors once again, including the Thuringians in 531, the Visigoths in 531 and 542, the Burgundians in 534, and the Ostrogoths in Provence in 535.

For two generations, the sons and grandsons of Clovis reigned from the four Merovingian capitals of Reims, Soissons, Paris, and Orleans.  After the death of a king, his region was divided among the surviving brothers until all the regions were eventually reunified under Clothar I in 558.  After his death three years later, the kingdom was partitioned once again to his four sons. When Charibert I died at an early age in 567, his lands were divided among his three surviving brothers, thus changing the four-capital system to three.  From 567, the three regions of Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy defined the political division of the Merovingian Kingdom for the next 200 years.

Left: Bronze Effigy of Chilperic I
Right: Medieval Painting of Sigibert I

Although Clovis had provided his sons and grandsons the first stage of conversion for redeeming their bloodline, many times his descendants would backslide to their barbaric nature when disputes arose.  The division of Charibert's region in 567 created hostilities between Chilperic I and Sigebert I.  These blood feuds between Neustria and Austrasia were temporally put aside when Clothar II consolidated all of the regions under one rule in 613.

Because Clothar II was now the sole king of the Merovingian realm that was ruled from the Neustrian capital of Paris, the other two regions of Austrasia and Burgundy petitioned the king to permit one of their own locals to represent them as a mediator between the king and the people of each region.  As a result, by 617 the office of the Mayor of the Palace was elevated to a sub-king level in all three regions, which was the first step in a series of many that would eventually lead to the demise of the Merovingian dynasty.  The Austrasians scored a great victory with this step due to the fact that they were able to secure a lifetime appointment to this office, along with its de facto hereditary nature.  Up to this point, no office other that the king was for life, nor could be passed down to their descendants, which is why the mayor's office was at a sub-king level.

The three geographical divisions of the Merovingian Kingdom were based primarily on linguistic and tribal origins, such as Burgundy, which had very few Franks in comparison to the Roman, Burgundian, Alanian, and Ostrogothic populations.  However, the heartland of Neustria and Austrasia consisted primarily of Franks, which had divided into two main sub-tribes many centuries before.  When the Salian Franks had moved into the Foederati territory of the Roman Empire in  358, they separated themselves from the Ripuarian Franks who stayed back on the Rhine River.  While the word Salian means a "salty" origin from the coast, the word Ripuarian signifies the "river" home of the Rhine.  After the Salian Franks filled the power vacuum of the Roman Empire, they subjugated the Ripuarian Franks on the Rhine and Mosel Rivers in 510.  The Ripuarian heartland became known as Austrasia, and later encompassed the Germanic tribes of the Frisians, Alemannians, and Thuringians,

After the Ripuarian Franks of Austrasia were conquered by the Salian Franks of Neustria in 510, they despised their fellow Franks for subjugating them and devised every conceivable plan to seize the kingdom from them.  While the first step of establishing the mayor's office as hereditary and lifelong had been accomplished in 617, the second step was shortly under way.  After Pepin I had acquired the mayor's office of Austrasia in 623, he petitioned for the king's son to rule over them. Clothar II then appointed his 13-year old son Dagobert I as their king.  Because Salic Law forbade a minor to rule, the mayor's office was set up to act as "regent" until the young king reached the age of maturity.  The Ripuarian Franks clearly understood this law and used it to their advantage to eventually gain autonomy.  For this reason, the control of "boy kings" became the second step that was used by the Ripuarian Franks of Austrasia, for the mere fact of the mayor's influence as regent over the puppet king.

Left: Medieval Painting of Clothar II
Right: Bronze Effigy of Dagobert I

When Clothar II died in 629, Dagobert I returned to Neustria as a 19-year old ready to rule over all three regions of the Merovingian Kingdom, as his father had previously done.  After a few years, Pepin I petitioned once again for the king's son to rule over them, after which Dagobert I sent his 4-year old son Sigebert III to reign over the Ripuarian Franks of Austrasia in 634.  Although this step had occurred prviously, this time was different because Pepin I could influence a 4-year old king by dominating his court.  Once the Ripuarian Franks had their young king, Dagobert I mysteriously died a few years later in 638 at the young age of twenty-eight, thus completing the last part of step two by eliminating the mature king once he had produced an heir.  The death of Dagobert I demonstrates the transition when a secret combination was in place to commandeer the kingdom from the Salian Franks, which ended almost 200 years of effective rule by the Merovingian dynasty.

While step one increased the mayor's power and step two reduced the power of the king by controlling his heir after eliminating him, these two steps gave way to a third step of the Ripuarian aristocracy intermarrying within the Merovingian bloodline.  After Pepin I had acquired his young king, he arranged a marriage between his son Grimoald and a Merovingian princess, who likely descended from Childebert II, a previous Salian king of Austrasia.  Before Pepin I died in 640, he was able to witness the birth of this Ripuarian and Salian union, where his grandson received the name of Childebert, thus becoming the first Ripuarian Frank to receive a Merovingian king title.  Although Childebert had a proper king name and carried the matrilineal blood of the Salian Franks in his veins, it was unclear if this would be enough for the Franks to accept him as a legitimate king in lieu of Salic Law.  Each king thus far had complied with Salic Law by having a patrilineal descent from the Salian bloodline, whereas the patrilineal heritage of Childebert came from the Ripuarian Franks.  Because the practice of inheriting an office therough the intermarriage of an heiress was not established until the Feudal System emerged a few hundred years later, Austrasian's new Mayor Grimoald had to wait for the right opportunity to make his move.

Medieval Illustration of Liege:
Home of Pepin and Ripuarian Franks
After the young king Sigebert III had produced an heir, he mysteriously died in 656, at the early age of twenty-six, leaving his 4-year old son Dagobert II as the heir-apparent.  Grimoald moved decisively by tonsuring and exiling the young boy to a monastery in Ireland, and then immediately he put his 16-year old son Childebert on the throne of Austrasia.  The Salian aristocracy of Neustria were outraged and responded by capturing and executing Grimoald that same year.  Although Grimoald was eliminated, it appears that the Salian Franks allowed Childebert to stay on the throne for the next six years until 662.  This may have resulted from the temporary need of a king in this region, because Clovis II mysteriously died in 657 at the young age of twenty-four.  In addition, because Childebert had the Merovingian name and the maternal aspects of the bloodline, it is possible that the Salian Franks left him alone for a while until the paternal heir Childeric II had reached an age to take over in 662.

While the coup of the Ripuarian Franks was thwarted, the sentiments that were felt in the aftermath led to a major civil war between the Neustrians and Austrasians.  In the twenty-five years that followed, some Mayors of the Palace were assassinated while the Merovingian kings continued to reign as minorities, only to be murdered in their early twenties.  The climax of this situation came full circle to where it originally started with Pepin I in the early 7th century.  Although the paternal line of Pepin I was terminated, his daughter Begga preserved his line maternally by marrying the Austrasian Mayor named Ansegisal, who was the son of Bishop Arnulf of Metz.  Begga and Ansegisal named their son Pepin II after his maternal grandfather, to preserve his legacy.

Bishop Arnulf of Metz:
Carolingian Fortress on the Mosel River, France

Upon the death of his father, Pepin II became the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia in 680, where he continued the "step two" phase that his grandfather had introduced, by controlling the courts of the boy kings.  In addition, Pepin II also followed the "step three" phase that his maternal uncle Grimoald initiated, by having a son with a Merovingian princess.  It is likely that this princess descended from the Childebert line of Salian kings in Austrasia, due to the fact that Pepin II gave his son the Merovingian name of Childebrand, while the Neustrians were still in power.

Map of Carolingian Expansion
of the Ripuarian Franks of Austrasia

After seven years of being ruled by a king who was influenced by the Mayors of Neustria, Pepin II gathered an army to oppose Merovingian rule once and for all.  In 687, Pepin II led an Austrasian army towards the capital of Paris, but was intercepted by the Neustrian Mayor Berthar near the Somme River.  As the two sides engaged in the Battle of Tertry, the Ripuarian Franks finally defeated the Salian Franks after being under their rule since 510.  The Battle of Tertry was not about subduing the region of Neustria, but rather was fought over the conflict between the Mayors of the Palace.  For the previous fifty years, the only power that the Franks knew was the control of boy kings by Mayors of the Palace.  As a result, Pepin II allowed Theoderic III to remain as the Merovingian king, as long as he recognized his mayorship over the entire kingdom.  Because Pepin II now filled the mayor's office of all three regions of Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgunday, he took upon himself the prince title of Princeps Francorum.

The Battle of Tertry in 687 marked the official date when the Merovingian kings had entered the last phase of their reigning.  Thus far, the Merovingian dynasty had passed through several phases of Salian Frankish identity that defined them as a people.  While the first phase of expanding from Foederati territory as a Frankish confederacy lasted almost 100 years in Belgium, the second phase of effective Merovingian kingship lasted almost 200 years in France and Germany.  It was in the third phase, which lasted almost 50 years, where the Merovingian bloodline is literally taken hostage, bringing about a mayoral civil war between the Salian and Ripuarian Franks.  By the time the Merovingian dynasty had entered the last phase of 60 years, the kings were more symbolic than functional, and their bloodline was barely kept alive to appease tradition.  The fact that Pepin II did not dispose of the Merovingian bloodline when he had taken absolute power speaks volumes on how important Salic Law was during this period and how it was completely woven into the fabric of Frankish society.
Basic Summary of the Different Phases
within the Merovingian Dynasty

Soon after Pepin II obtained power as the prince of the Merovingian Kingdom, he reneged on his vow to King Theoderic III by having him murdered.  Although King Theodoric III had married Pepin's sister, it is probable that he eliminated him because there was no use for a mature king that had already produced heirs.  What is even more disheartening is the fact that these new boy kings were forced to produce heirs in their early teens, only to be murdered several years later.

After Pepin II had ruled for 27 years as the prince of the Merovingian Kingdom, the Neustrians tried to assert their independence upon his death in 714.  For the next four years, a civil war ensued between the Neustrian aristocracy and Pepin II's son Charles Martel.  Although the Salian Franks fought valiantly, they were eventually routed by the shrewd military genius of Charles Martel.  The martial skills that Charles Martel acquired in the Frankish civil war of 715-718 gave him the edge that he would later use in the Battle of Tours.

In 711, the Umayyad Muslims of Northwest Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula of Spain, driving many of the Visigothic-Spaniards into the Asturian highlands of the Pyrenees.  After eight years of conquering most of Visigothic Spain, the Umayyad Muslims advanced into southern France and conquered most of Aquitaine and Burgundy. 

Charles Martel fighting the Muslims
at the Battle of Tours in 732
About the time it appeared that the Muslims would overrun Western Civilization, Charles Martel united his Neustrian and Austrasian Franks and marched forth to the Loire River Valley in 732.  After the Franks soundly conquered the undefeated army of the Umayyad Muslims in the Battle of Tours, they drove them all the way back to Spain.  From this point on, Charles Martel's reputation had transformed him into the champion of Western Civilization that saved Christianity from the Muslims. Many historians have ranked the Battle of Tours in the top ten battles of world history based on the fact that Western Civilization would have been extremely different if the Muslims had conquered the Franks.

Charles Martel's reputation as the defender of Christianity became one of the decisive factors that led to the deposal of the Merovingian dynasty of few years later.  While the boy kings continued to reign during this time period, Theoderic IV was murdered in 737, at the young age of twenty-five.  Charles' reputation was such that he saw that there was no need to comply with the traditions of Salic Law by replacing the young king, whereby the office remained vacant until his death in 741.  Although Charles Martel's son Pepin III became the next prince of the Merovingian Kingdom, he did not have the same confidence as his father.  As a result, he appointed the patrilineal heir Childeric III was the new king of the Merovingian realm in 743.

Cutting Childeric III's Hair
when deposed as the Last Merovingian King

After reigning a few years, Pepin III realized that the Franks did not need a symbolic king who served as a useless puppet, but rather a functional king who actually had power.  However, the Ripuarian Franks who had power lacked the patrilineal aspects of the Salian bloodline that was needed to comply with Salic Law.  Pepin III knew that if he appointed himself king that the Frankis aristocracy would never accept this, due to the fact that the traditions of Salic Law were so embedded in their society.  Because the ecclesiastical power of the Roman Catholic Church was the only power that was strong enough to sway the minds of the Frankish people in lieu of Salic Law, Pepin III sent an envoy to Rome to plead his case.

Following a back-room deal made by Pope Zacharias in 751, the Frankish envoy returned to Paris with a letter of endorsement that gave Pepin III the Pope's blessing to become king.  Immediately, Pepin III deposed Childeric III as the last Merovingian king, by tonsuring him and sending him to a monastery to live out the remainder of his days.  Because the long hair of the Merovingian dynasty served as a symbol of their kingship, the hair of Childeric III was cut off as a sign to the Frankish people that the Merovingian bloodline was no longer useful.  Thus, while the Merovingian Kingdom started with Childeric I, three hundred years later it would end with Childeric III at the last king of Salian Frankish bloodline.

When Pepin III usurped the Salian Frankish throne, he needed more than just an endorsement letter from the Pope, if he were to silence all disputes pertaining to Salic Law.  As a result, the back-room deal that was made with the Pope was more complex, as it involved one of the greatest secret combinations that has ever existed in the history of mankind.  Because Ostrogothic Italy was conquered in 568 by the Germanic tribe of the Lombardys, the power of the Pope was mainly confined to Rome.  While Italy adhered to the Roman tradition of Christianity, the Lombardys followed the Arian forms, which acted as their driving force to persecuting and torturing the native Italians.  Many historians consider the time period between 568-756 was one of the lowest points in papal history.  For this reason, the secret combination that was contrived between the Ripurian Franks and the Roman Popes consisted of elements that both parties lacked, but could not survive without.
Creation of Holy Roman Empire
by the Ripuarian Franks (Carolingians)

In 754, Pope Stephen personally traveled to France and met with Pepin III, where they negotiated the terms of their new alliance.  The outcome of these negotiations resulted in a forged document called "The Donation of Constantine," which they alleged was written by the Emperor Constantine in 317.  While previous documents showed that Constantine claimed to be the ultimate source of power in the Roman Empire, this forged document claimed that Constantine donated his power to Pope Sylvester and his successors  Although this document became the constitutional basis for which Pepin III and Pope Stephen II built their alliance upon, many scholars during the Reformation Period proved that it was a forgery based on factors such as grammatical syntax and terminology of 8th century Latin that did not exist in the 4th century.

Medieval Fresco showing Constantine
donating power to Pope Sylvester

The forgery of this document is evidence that both Pepin III and Pope Stephen II realized that they lacked the civil authority to rule, where the Ripuarian Franks fell short of a Salian bloodline and the Roman Popes were limited by the suppression of the Lombardys.  As a result, the deal that was made between Pepin III and Pope Stephen II gave them the power they lacked, but only if both parties fulfilled their respective obligations.  Pope Stephen II fulfilled his part of the secret combination by carrying out the first papal appointing of a ruler as a "Holy King," which was ritually performed in front of the Frankish aristocracy, thus providing Pepin III with the legitimacy to rule.  Furthermore, Pepin III fulfilled his part of the combination by marching over the Alps, where he conquered the Lombardys, which led to the formation of the Papal States.

Because the deal that was made between Pepin III and Pope Stephen II provided both parties with the power they lacked, then conversely they would have to share this power in the end.  For this reason, the dual political nature of the Holy Roman Empire was formed, when sometimes the Pope would choose the Emperor or vice versa, depending on who had more power at the time.  Thus, the imperial alliance that was formed between the Ripuarian Franks and the Roman Catholic Church was based on a forged document that scholars jokingly refer to today as "The Donation of Pepin," which became the founding constitution that the Holy Roman Empire was built upon for the next thousand years.

The dynasty that the Ripuarian Franks started was not named after the progenitors of Pepin and Arnulf, but rather followed the same pattern as the Salian Franks.  While Childeric I became the first Salian king, the dynasty was not named after him, but rather his father Meroveus, thus forming the Merovingian dynasty.  In a similar fashion, while Pepin III became the first Ripuarian king, the dynasty never carried his name, but rather that of his father Charles (Carlo), known as the Carolingian dynasty.  The alliance between the Ripuarian Franks and Roman Catholic Church would last for the next 160 years, where by 911 their Germanic neighbors to the east took over the Holy Roman Empire for the next 900 years.

Map of Merovingian Tributaries in France
during Carolingian Rule

It is interesting to note how the Merovingian kings were sandwiched between the Emperors of the Roman Empire and the Emperors-Popes of the Holy Roman Empire.  In addition, it is also intriguing to ponder how the Gentile institutions of the Roman Empire were revived by the Ephraimitic tribes of Germania.  Consequently, Ephraim had infiltrated the Roman organization of Christianity, and created the power base of the Holy Roman Empire that has had lasting effects through modern times.  Although the Ripurian Franks created a power base in Germania that clearly affected Western Civilization, the Lord was mindful of the Salian Franks and preserved their royal bloodline, in order that a rival power base would come out of their seed hundreds of years later through England to America.

While the last 110 years of the Merovingian dynasty consisted mostly of murdered boy-kings, it may not be coincidence that this period amounts to about four generations.  Because there is no doubt that the Lord allowed this to happen, it is highly possible that the time period of the boy kings was used to weed out the iniquity from this royal bloodline.  If the Lord was going to keep his promises to redeem the bloodline of Ephraim in the latter days, he would have had to soften the hardened hearts of the Germanic tribes through various stages.  Even though the first phase of Romanization introduced the barbarian Franks to the Christian faith and civilized behavior, there is no doubt that some of the Merovingian kings backslid to their barbaric nature when disputes arose.  The reason it may not be a coincidence that the premature deaths of four generations was a purgation phase, is based on the aftermath, where the majority of individuals who emerged out of this bloodline were of the utmost character.

Map of the Merovingian Bloodline Migrating to Autun by 782

After Childeric III was deposed as the last Salian monarch, there were several reasons why Pepin III sent him to a monastery in St. Omer, Belgium, instead of killing him like prior Merovingian kings.  When Pepin's Ripurian ancestors served as Austrasian mayors, one of their plans to usurp the throne was to intermarry with Merovingian princesses, in order to show that the Salian blood flowed through their veins.  As a result, Pepin III was wed into the royal bloodline by marrying Bertrada, the great granddaughter of Theoderic III.  This was also the case with the reverse, where the Austrasian mayors arranged for their daughters to marry some of the Merovingian boy-kings, so that the Ripuarian blood flowed through the king's line as well.  Consequently, after Pepin III had placed Childeric III on the Merovingian throne in 743, within a year, he arranged the marriage of his sister Aldana to Childeric's son Theoderic.  Because the wife and sister of Pepin III were both interlinked with the Merovingian bloodline, it is likely that they softened his heart to spare their lives.
Childe Family as Merovingian Descendants
interacting with Carolingians

There were two major events that transpired in the same year that allowed Theodoric and his family to be set free from the monastery in 754.  First, his father Childeric III had passed away that year, which meant his father would not return as an exiled king.  And second, because Pepin's coronation that year was officially carried out by Pope Stephen II, he no longer had anything to fear in terms of Frankish interpretation of Salic Law.  Although Theoderic had never served as a king, Pepin III still needed to keep his eye on him, so he brought Theoderic and his sister Aldana into his court, where they raised their six children.

By the time that Pepin III had passed away in 768, the new Ripuarian monarchy was well entrenched among the Frankish people, where the subsequent king Charlemagne had no concerns about the Merovingian dynasty returning to power.  Although Theoderic was from this bloodline, he was still Charlemagne's maternal uncle, and therefore, he became favored in his court.  After serving Charlemagne as a liaison in his wars with the Saxons, he was rewarded with the county of Autun in 782.  Theoderic and his wife Aldana moved their family to the three-corners region where the borders of Aquitaine, Burgundy, and Neustria came together.  For the next twenty-two years, Theoderic served as the Count of Autun until his death in 804.  Thus, the migration of Theoderic's family to Autun in 782 marks the time period when the Salian bloodline of the Merovingian dynasty moved into southern France.

Charlemagne's Throne-Court
where Duke William de Gellone was raised
When Theoderic raised his family in the court of Pepin III, his sons were close in age to the king's sons, allowing these cousins to grow up together.  By the time Charlemagne became king at the age of twenty in 768, Theoderic's youngest son William lived as a teenager in his court at Aachen.  Although Charlemagne's grandfather Charles Martel defeated the Umayyad Muslims by driving them back into Spain in 732, within a few decades they were trying once again to expand into France.  In 778, William joined Charlemagne's Frankish army that marched over the Pyrenees into northern Spain to help establish the Spanish March of Catalonia as a buffer zone in the southern border of the kingdom.

Valley of Toulouse where Duke William administered
789-806

After William had proven his martial prowess and shrewd intellect in battle, Charlemagne appointed him as the Count of Toulouse in 789, in order to control the rebellions of the Gothic-Iberians of Gascony. Within the year, William's army had subdued the region of Gascony, thus bringing order to the periphery of the Carolingian Kingdom.  The counties of Toulouse and Gascony were two of the most important positions to fill within the Frankish realm because of their proximity to the hostile region of Islamic Spain.  These border regions were often referred to as Marches because of their antagonistic nature, whereby they were administered by a Marquis.

Map of Childe Migration in Southern France
 during Carolingian Rule

In 793, the Umayyad Muslims of Spain proclaimed another Holy War against Western Civilization, and led an army of 50,000 to invade southern France.  Duke William responded by cutting off the Muslim army at Razes and Narbonne, within the March of Septimania.  After raising a tenacious resistance, the Muslim army was so exhausted that they retreated back into northern Spain, only to fight another day.  Following this fierce battle, William's reputation as an astute military commander grew in proportions similar to that of Charles Martel after his encounter with the Muslims only sixty years earlier.  Because William had proven his martial intellect and valor once again in battle, Charlemagne appointed him as the Marquis of Septimania, while still retaining the counties of Toulouse and Gascony.  Now that William's land included many counties in Aquitaine, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, he was considered the primary Viceroy or Duke that defended the southern Carolingian border against Muslim invaders.

By the turn of the 9th century, the Franks grew tired of the Umayyad Muslims crossing the border from their base in Barcelona, causing them to go on the offensive.  In 801, Duke William led an army across the Pyrenees and captured the Muslim bases of Barcelona and Tortosa.  There is no doubt that this was an extraordinary victory for Duke William as it temporarily put an end to the Umayyad Muslim hostilities in southern France.

St. Guilhem
Now that Duke William had defended the southern border of the Carolingian Kingdom by repelling Muslim incursions for more than twenty years, he wanted to spend the last of his days in the peaceful service of God.  Accordingly, Duke William founded the Monastery of Gellone (St. Guilhem) in Septimania in 804, where two years later he retired and became a monk by taking on a life of solitude and piety.  Upon his death in 812, his character and reputation were such that it was recorded that Charlemagne profusely wept at his funeral.  Because of Duke William's heroic performance as Western Civilization's defender of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church canonized him as St. Guilhem in 1066.  Furthermore, because his moral integrity and gallantry were so respected among his peers as the quintessential Christian warrior, his legend grew to epic proportions, where the knights of the Crusades recited heroic poems and songs about him in more that twenty-five chansons de geste.

Monastery of Gellone (St. Guilhem)
 in Septimania founded in 804

During the life of William de Gellone, he had given the county of Roussillon to his son Childehelm, which was the southern most county in Septimania by the Pyrenees Mountain Range.  Because this county was the key location for defending the Carolingian border from the Muslims, William placed his most trusted warrior in this position.  In addition, because the people from Septimania consisted primarily of Visigoths, Childehelm appeased his subjects by translating his Frankish name to the Gothic form of Gothzelm or Gaucelm.  After ruling as the Count of Roussillon for thirteen years, Childehelm also received the county of Ampurias in 817, thus making him the primary representative of Imperial authority in southern Septimania.

By 826, Childehelm's younger brother Bernard had acquired much of the land that his father William had ruled over, thus making him the Duke of Aquitaine.  Three years later Duke Bernard was called into the Emperor's court as a chamberlain, which caused his counties in Septimania to be given to his brother.  Although Childehelm was named the Marquis of Septimania, this honor was short lived because of the civil war that broke out in the ensuing fourteen years.  Just as the Merovingians had fought over disputed lands, the Carolingians followed in their same footsteps when Louis the Pious divided the kingdom among his three sons.  By 830, the Emperor's son rebelled against their father and started a civil war that eventually brought about the disintegration of Carolingian rule by the end of the century.

Pyrenees Mountain Range:
Natural Barrier between Spain and France
The irony of a civil war within the royal family is the pressure that is put upon the lesser nobility to choose a side.  While the Dukes, Marquises, and Counts that remain neutral are accused of not supporting their overlords, thus putting their positions in  jeopardy, the risk is even greater for the nobility that chooses the side that loses.  Almost invariably, the losing nobility of a civil war forfeit their positions and lands, and often faced execution as well.  This vicarious situation is what transpired with the children of William of Gellone.  In 832, Childehelm and his brothers were stripped of their positions and lands in southern France, and were forced to return to their familial lands that were given to their grandfather Theoderic in Autun.

Within two years, the civil war had moved to the Autun region, where Childehelm defended the city of Chalon for Emperor Louis the Pious.  After a bloody siege, the Emperor's son Lothair captured the city of Chalon in 834, where he executed Childehelm by beheading him.  This execution was not carried out solely because Childehelm defended the emperor, but rather occurred because Lothair was threatened by the Merovingian bloodline.  This is why Lothair also executed Childehelm's sister Gerberge, who was serving as an innocent nun in Chalon.  The fact that Duke Bernard and his son were later executed, along with many others from this family indicate the Carolingian awareness of the Merovingian blood that flowed through their veins.  It is interesting to note how self-assured Charlemagne was with this bloodline, especially in light of the epic reputation that surrounded William of Gellone, where within only one generation, none of this seemed to matter any more.

Map of Tripartite Division from Carolingian Civil Wars
830-843

Within the next decade, the civil war continued to weaken the Carolingian infrastructure, where finally, the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious came to a settlement.  They signed the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which adhered to Salic Law by partitioning the Carolingian Kingdom into three sub-kingdoms.  Now that the Western Kingdom was ruled by Charles the Bald, which included most of modern-day France, the descendants of William of Gellone were no longer persecuted by the Carolingians, but rather started to spread and prosper throughout Aquitaine.

Autun Valley
at the base of the Central Massif Mountains of Auvergne

The familial lands that Charlemagne gave to Theoderic around Autun in the eighth century remained within this family for several generations.  While Theoderic's son William monitored the France-Spain border, his other sons remained around Autun, where at least two of them served as Counts.  After William's descendants returned from the southern border, his eldest son Theoderic III also served as the Count of Autun, along with three other sons that served as imperial liaisons from this same region.  Hence, the county of Autun became the regional base for this Merovingian bloodline to spread throughout Aquitaine.

While Childehelm was known like his father William of Gellone for his zeal and generosity in establishing several monasteries and abbeys throughout the March of Septimania, his son Childegaire I followed in a similar fashion around the northwestern region of Autun.  The family of Childegaire I served as seigneurs (sires) of several castles surrounding the towns of Corbigny and Vezelay, which are about fifteen miles apart.  During the 9th century, the family of Childegaire I helped establish several monasteries in this region dedicated to Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, which is a pattern that will reoccur in subsequent generations of this Frankish bloodline, in both France and England.  Those in particular are the basilicas of St. Magdalene in Vezelay and St. Saviour in Puisaye.

Basilica of Mary Magdalene - Vezelay, Autun Region
9th Century

Soon after the establishment of the Basilica of Mary Magdalene in the 9th century, the town of Vezelay became the main pilgrimage center for her adoration in Western Europe.  The influx of pilgrims to Vezelay resulted from a monk named Baudillon, who claimed to have brought the relics of Mary Magdalene from St. Maximin-la-St. Baume of Provence.  Because many Frankish legends claimed that Mary Magdalene had migrated to southern France after the crucifixion of Christ, tradition held that Provence was the final resting place of her remains.  After Pope Benedict X authenticated her relics as genuine in 1058, Vezelay became the main pilgrimage center for Mary Magdalene to this day.  It is interesting to point out the significance of Vezelay as a revered location for the Frankish bloodline, due to the fact that the English and French nobility of the Third Crusade met at the Basilica of Mary Magdalene in 1189, to officially depart for the Holy Land.

The involvement of Childegaire I in establishing monasteries around the Corbigny region of Autun was a contributing factor as to why his youngest son Childegaire II went into the ministry.  The fact that his grandfather Childehelm and his great grandfather William were also pious men who established monasteries throughout southern France also influenced his decision.  As a result, while the brothers of Childegaire II administered the castles around Vezelay, he became a priest and served the local people in the abbeys of Corgigny and Flavigny.  After Childegaire II had mastered the word of God, his reputation escalated until Charles the Bald called him in to his royal court to serve as the king's chaplain.

While Childegaire II served as a chaplain and chancellor for Charles the Bald, he followed in the footsteps of his second great grandfather Theoderic, by raising his family in the Carolingian court.  During the early Medieval Period, many of the ecclesiastical clerics, including abbots, bishops, and priest, were married and had children.  Although the vows of celibacy were introduced during the fourth century, they were not officially enforced until the Second Latern Council of 1139.  As a result, Childegaire II took the opportunity to be obedient to all of God's commandments, thus obeying the very first commandment to multiply and replenish the earth.  By 875, Childegaire II had completed his service to King Charles, after which he returned home to serve as the Bishop of Autun until his death in 893.  During his tenure as Bishop, the reputation of Childegaire II was such that he served as a chancellor to both King Boson in 879 and King Eudes in 892-893.
Basic Background of the Frankish Feudal System
from 870-1066

Because Childegaire II was privileged to raise his son Childebert I in the royal Frankish court, eventually King Charles came to trust his son as a vassalage of the monarchy.  Carolingian court records from 876 refer to Childebert I as the fidelis of Charles the Bald, which meant that he had sworn an oath of fealty, homage, and military service to the king in return for a land grant called a feud.  The feud that the king bestowed upon Childebert I consisted of the county of Limoges in the Limousin region of Aquitaine.  This feud also consisted of a noble office of Viscount, which was now an honor that Childebert I could pass down to his descendants as a hereditary family possession.
Basic Background of the Frankish Feudal System
from 870-1066

Although the concept of granting land as a feud started during the reign of Charlemagne, many scholars have considered these oaths of fealty as a proto-feudal system.  Before 870, feuds had a shelf life, which meant that neither the land nor the office could be passed down to descendants as de facto hereditary tenancy.  The offices of duke, marquis, and count were public honors assigned by the king for administering designated regions.  In addition, the majority of land tenure within these regions was based on the villa system, which was a domestic Roman institution that both the Merovingians and Carolingians had adopted.  The villa signified a fortified village that was self-sustaining, which was fully owned as an allodial compound by the Roman and Frankish aristocracy.

By 870, the concept of granting land as a feud had developed into the formal feudal system, which continued for the next 900 years until the French Revolution. While the offices of duke, marquis, and count were now private and hereditary as de facto family possession, the two offices of viscount and sire were formed to account for the overlord-lord relationship, along with the vassal-subvassal affiliation.  If an overlord, such as a king or duke, held several count offices as well, a viscount could then act in his stead without losing the office.  Perhaps the greatest difference that solidified the formal feudal system was the transformation of the villa into the seigneur system.  The seigneur or sire acted as a landlord who granted his land to fideles in exchange for military service.  As a result, the land was not fully owned, but was rather held in tenancy as an aprisial compound based on oaths of homage and fealty.

Map of Autonomous Principalities in Southwest France
911-1066

While there were many factors that gave rise to feudalism, one of the originating dynamics was the disintegration of Carolingian rule that occurred from the civil wars and Viking raids between 839-870.  This forty-year period is one of the most unstable chapters of Frankish history, which led to many military innovations and reforms, such as the Edict of Pistres in 864.  This edict added the official cavalry (knight) element to the army that made it more mobile, which in turn gave rise to the development of chivalry that was so prevalent in the following 600 years.  In addition, this forty-year period brought about the eventual collapse of the Western Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire.

By the end of the 9th century, the two regions of Neustria and Aquitaine, which made up the Western Kingdom, had broken down into many autonomous principalities that were run by a small group of noble families.  Because the Seine and Rhone River Valleys had been primarily ruled by the Carolingian bloodline, the noble families that descended from the Merovingian bloodline settled to the southwest in the Loire and Garonne River Valleys.  By  911, the Carolingians had lost control of the Holy Roman Empire, where the Eastern Kingdom that was once on the periphery, soon became the central base of operations run out of Germany.  When the Carolingian dynasty weakened itself from internal dissent, the popes reneged on their deal with the Carolingians and made a new alliance with the Germanic aristocracy that would last for almost 900 years.  Thus, the days of widespread Frankish rule had declined and would idle until one of these autonomous principalities would rise again.

When Childebert I swore an oath of fealty to King Charles in 876, he became a vassal of a monarchy that was about to crumble.  Because Childebert I was at the young age of twenty-one when he became the king's fidelis, he was privileged to administer his county for 38 years, thus witnessing the transition of power from the Carolingian dynasty to autonomous principalities.  During his lifetime, he started his administration with the Carolingian King as his overlord, but ended his tenure with a Merovingian Duke as his overlord.  The irony of this shift of power is the fact that his new overlord, Duke William the Pious, was his second cousin, once removed.

Valley of Clermont:
Base of the Central Massif Mountains of Auvergne

As the family of Childebert's second great grandfather, Duke William of Gellone, spread out from their familial base in Autun, they migrated primarily to the west and south, around the base and within the Central Massif mountain range.  His patrilineal descendants eventually took control of the Bourbon and Auvergne regions, thus producing several lineages of counts and viscounts throughout Aquitaine.  When the Western Kingdom broke down into autonomous principalities, Count William the Pious rose up from his Clermont base in Auvergne, where he consolidated the surrounding regions to make him the Duke of Aquitaine.

Although the Carolingian dynasty was deposed in the Holy Roman Empire in 911, their descendants continued to use the king title in France until 987.  Nonetheless, the autonomous principalities never acknowledged the remaining Carolingian dynasty as kings, because these principalities were often much larger than the administrative areas of the so-called kings.  As a matter of fact, the smaller regions that both the Carolingian and Capetian kings ruled over from 911-1216, remained constant for more than three hundred years.  For this reason, these kings functioned more like dukes due to their lack of control over peripheral principalities.

Viscount Castle near Abbey of St. Martial
within Fortified City of Limoges
While the extended family of Childebert I administered the counties around the Central Massif Mountains, his county of Limoges was on the periphery of his family's domain.  When Childebert I received the feud of Limoges, he followed the new building pattern of the feudal system, by constructing castles throughout his domain that were handed down to his descendants as de facto family possession.  Upon the death of Childbert I in 914, he passed down the original and largest feud to his eldest son Childegaire III, which consisted of the viscount office and castle that was erected within the fortified city of Limoges.

St. Etienne Cathedral
where Childegaire IV served as Bishop of Limoges
Although the primary seat for the Viscounts of Limoges was located within the city walls, Childebert I built a caslte in the country about 30 miles south of Limoges called Segur-le-Chateau, which became the secondary place of residence for his family.  This new castle was built on an oxbow of the Auvezere River, and was strategically located in the southeastern portion of the county for the purpose of maintaining the border with the adjacent county of Perigueux.  Because the new feudal system was now a private family possession, Childebert I was able to partition his land by creating the new office of Viscount of Segur for his second son Fulco before his death.  The two viscount offices of Limoges and Segur stayed within the respective lineages for three generations, until they were consolidated once again under Viscount Guy of Limoges, through the intermarriage of his second cousin Emma of Segur.

Childegaire III administered the county of Limoges for 33 years before he passed away in 947, leaving the viscount office to his eldest son Geraud.  It is interesting to note how after many generations, songs and poems still reveal a wealth of information of the origins of a bloodline, which was the case for Geraud.  While many chasons de geste were sung about Geraud's fourth great grandfather Duke William de Gellone, there was at least one chanson named Geraud of Roussillon.  Because the chanson names Fulco, the Viscount of Segur, as Geraud's uncle, scholars have used this to identify Geraud of Limoges as the perpetrator of this chanson.  The fact that Geraud is identified with Roussillon, a county that he never administered, but rather was ruled by his third great grandfather Childehelm or Gaucelm, is another origin point for his bloodline.

Abbey of Uzerche:
Founded 980 by Bishop Childegaire IV of Limoges
Sometime during the 41-year administration of Geraud's tenure as the Viscount of Limoges, his eldest son Childegaire IV made a crucial decision that changed the course of this bloodline forever.  While his ancestors had served within the Carolingian nobility as dukes, marquises, counts, and viscounts during the past 200 years, Childegaire IV decided to bypass his birthright as the Viscount of Limoges by entering the ministry.  Although his second great grandfather Childegaire II followed this path and became the Bishop of Autun, this decision was much more difficult for the following two reasons.  First, when Childegaire II entered the ministry the feudal system had not been fully established, thus allowing his descendants to reenter the nobility as the Viscounts of Limoges.  Second, because the feudal system had become de facto family possession, Childegaire IV would forfeit his birthright status as a viscount if he entered the ministry.  Although this decision would also affect his descendants by depriving them of this honor as well, this was a spiritual decision for Childegaire IV, which was based on his relationship with God.

By the time Childegaire IV decided to enter the ministry in the early 970s, he already had a son who was named after his younger brother Alwin.  It is not certain what happened to the wife of Childegaire IV, for it is possible that she died in childbirth due to the fact that Alwin was an only child.  By 976, Childegaire IV was called as the Bishop of Limoges, which now meant that he would live on the opposite side of the fortified city, where his younger brother Guy would now live in the castle portion as the Viscount of Limoges.  Because the city of Limoges had one of the greatest Benedictine monasteries in France, the first reform that Childegaire IV carried out as bishop was spreading the monastic influence throughout his diocese.  By 980, Childegaire IV founded and established the Abbey of Uzerche with a great learning tradition, which greatly benefited his relatives whose familial residence of Segur-le-Chateau was less than fifteen minutes away.

The spread of monasticism, which is a strict religious practice where individuals renounce worldly pursuits to gain higher forms of spirituality, first appeared as a formal organization during the reign of Constantine.  By 529, St. Benedict laid down specific rules for his monastery in Monte Casino, Italy, which soon became the norm for all monastic communities to follow.  Although these communities followed the Benedictine Rule for the next four centuries, reform was severely needed because none of these monasteries were formally linked, neither were they free of interference from the diocesan control of the bishops, nor the municipal control of the aristocracy.

St. Benedict:
Established Rules of Christian Monasticism in 529
By the early 10th century, Duke William the Pious grew weary of the corruption that was plaguing Christendom, for which he responded by establishing an archetypal monastery where his reforms could take place.  In 910, he donated land in Macon to build the Abbey of Cluny, which adhered to the following reforms.

First, because the feudal system was now the standard, Duke William the Pious placed the monastery under the direct control of Pope Sergius III, thereby eliminating all secular and episcopal interference, such as diocesan obligations and military service.  Placing the monastery under the authority of the papacy ensured its survival when there were changes in boundaries or monarchies.

Second, Duke William the Pious based the organizational structure of Cluny on the feudal system so that the hierarchy consisted of centralized authority that officially subjugated the undisciplined monasteries that had no formal link between them in the past.  Hence, the daughter priories and their cells answered to the mother Abbey of Cluny, who then made an accounting to the father papacy.

Third, Duke William the Pious adhered to a more strict interpretation of the Benedictine Rule, unlike monks in the past who focused more on physical labor and were undisciplined in higher enlightenment.  As a result, the Cluniac reforms to obtain this higher state were based on rigid adherence to religious ritual and liturgical study.

Map of Childe Migration to England
from the Cluniac Order in France
The course that Duke William the Pious pursued for carrying out his Cluniac reforms was first, to transform previously established monasteries, and second, persuade his extended family to donate land and money for building new monasteries.  Because to the southwest from their familial base in Autun, he had several second and third cousins nearby who gave him support.  Seven years after Cluny was established in 910, daughter priories were established along the Allier River at Souvigny in Bourbon and Sauxillanges in Auvergne.  Although the Abbey of Cluny was established on the border between Burgundy and Aquitaine, the monasteries along the Allier River in Aquitaine became the heartland of the daughter priories, which were also the counties that were run by the descendants of the Merovingian bloodline.

Because the descendants of William de Gellone had spread into the Limousin region as well, new monasteries were established there by 937.  Perhaps the toughest monastery to transform was St. Martial in Limoges, which had one of the greatest Benedictine traditions in France, along with the second largest library after Cluny.  While the transformation process of St. Martial was officially recognized in 930, the monastery was not formally acquired by Cluny until 1063.  Nonetheless, the main powers within Limoges, such as Viscount Childegaire III and Bishop Childegaire IV helped expedite this transformation.  Thus the decision of Childegaire IV to enter the ministry changed the course of his Merovingian bloodline because of the new form of Cluniac monasticism that his descendants would be a part of.

When Childegaire IV died in 990, his younger brother Alwin followed in his footsteps by serving as the Bishop of Limoges for the next twenty-four years.  Because the only son of Childegaire IV was named after Bishop Alwin, it is likely that he took his son under his wing as a father figure.  After he adjusted, Bishop Alwin used his family contacts by arranging ecclesiastical training for young Alwin with his distant cousins in Auvergne.  Sometime around 995, Alwin traveled to Le Puy in the Central Massif Mountains of Auvergne where he put his training on hold while he met and courted Blismode, who was the daughter of Beraud, the sire of Mercoeur.

Map of Childe Migration to England
from the Cluniac Order in France

Le Puy in Auvergne:
Provost Alwin Childegaire served as Cluniac Cleric
Following the marriage of Alwin and Blismode, they had a son named Alwin Childegaire.  Because the records reveal that he used these two names interchangeably throughout his life, it is evident that Alwin gave him these two names after the two father figures in his life, Bishop Childegaire IV and Bishop Alwin.  Following the birth of their son, Alwin must have decided to enter the ministry, due to the fact that he and Blismode had no more children together.  It is apparent that ecclesiastical training included the new form of Cluniac monasticism that was sweeping across France.  For shortly thereafter, Alwin and Blismode became the Prior and Prioress of St. Pierre Las Chases.

Abbey of Cluny:
Founded by Merovingian Descendants in 910
It is interesting to point out how Alwin's wife Blismode was the sister of Odilon of Mercoeur, who served as the fifth Abbot of Cluny for 55 years from 994-1049.  Many scholars consider Odilon as one of the greatest Abbots of Cluny, along with Odo, Mayuel, Hugh, and Peter.  These abbots served as international statesmen, who dealth specifically with popes, emperors, and kings, while the priors dealt specifically with bishops, counts, and viscounts.  They were also responsible for increasing Cluniac prestige by constructing the largest building in Europe until the Basilica of St. Peters was erected in Rome in 1626.  In addition, these abbots created the largest library in France, or for that matter, one of the most important in all of Europe.  By the time that these abbots finished their tenure in 1156, the golden age of Cluniac monasticism was over, when it lost steam when the more rigid Cistercian movement became the next wave of monastic reform.  Thus, there is no doubt that the two centuries of Cluniac monasticism that was started by the Merovingian bloodline changed the face of Western Civilization.

Cluny Abbey:
Largest Structure in Europe until the Vatican in 1626
Because Abbot Odilon was the brother-in-law to Prior Alwin, it is evident that this family connection provided opportunities to serve in unique positions within the Cluniac order.  While Prior Alwin served in the Cluniac monastery near the home of his in-laws, his son Alwin Childegaire started in the village of Le Puy like he had previously done.  Although taking the vows of celibacy were not fully enforced within the Catholic church until the 12th century, the pattern of ecclesiastical clerics from three generations of the Childegaire lineage indicates that they were able to maintain families while serving within the clergy.  It is highly likely that they followed the pattern of other ecclesiastical clerics, where they withdrew themselves from their clerical studies when the time was right to produce offspring, only to reenter the ministry at a later date.  Consequently, sometime after Alwin Childegaire served as the provost of Le Puy cathedral in 1026, he withdrew himself and had a son, who was also named Alwin.  Eventually Alwin Childegaire reentered the ministry and moved to the Abbey of Cluny in Macon, in which he served as an assistant and special liaison to Abbot Odilon.  This position provided Alwin Childegaire and his son the training they needed in the following decades, when they would be sent as diplomatic representatives to England in 1077 to promote Cluniac monasticism to King William the Conqueror.  After the Cluniac expansion, this Childe branch of the Merovingian bloodline never returned to France, but rather stayed in England where they started a new life.

Cluniac Monasticism influencing Western Civilization:
910-1154
To conclude, the story of the Childe bloodline migrating throughout France is an epic journey of 719 years of temporal splendor and spiritual refinement.  After reviewing seven centuries of how far this Childe bloodline has come, there is no doubt that the Lord specifically watched over this lineage by directing its dual paths of hardships and successes.  While there are many factors that distinguish thematic stages within any bloodline, there are at least six basis phases that can be isolated within the Chile lineage of France.  Because there is a clear temporal devolution of this bloodline that is conversely paralleled by a spiritual evolution, it is evident that the Lord has been weeding out the iniquity from this lineage, in preparation for the restoration of the gospel.
Basic Summary of the Different Phases
of the Childe Bloodline in France

When the Childe lineage started their first phase by migrating across the Rhine River in 358, they were a hardened and ferocious tribe of Germanic Franks that were laden with iniquity.  Within 93 years, the Salian Franks had expanded throughout the region of Belgium within the Foederati territory of the Roman Empire, to finally be united by their first king Childeric I.

The second phase of the Childe bloodline witnessed the collapse of the Roman Empire, which was replaced by 187 years of effective kingship by the Merovingian dynasty.  Although the Childe lineage retained its barbaric nature, the adaptation to civilized enlightenment, along with the conversion to the Roman form of Christianity, started the refinement process.

The third phase of this royal lineage is by far the lowest point in its sojourn through France, whereby the Merovingian bloodline was literally taken hostage for 113 years.  Although most of the Merovingian boy-kings never made it past their early twenties, the Lord did not allow the lineage to perish when the Holy Roman Empire rose and deposed the last Merovingian king, Childeric III.

The actions from the subsequent generations of the fourth phase reveal that much of the iniquity was weeded out that was holding the Childe bloodline captive.  This 125-year phase marks the transition when the descendants of the Merovingian bloodline moved into southern France and served the Carolingian dynasty as dukes, marquises, counts, chancellors, and imperial liaisons.

The fifth phase of the Childe lineage marks the breakdown of the Carolingian Kingdom into autonomous principalities that were administered by the new sociopolitical order of the feudal system.  This 100-year period marked the beginning of hereditary possession, where Childebert I was able to pass down to his son Childegaire III a feudal county as the Viscount of Limoges.

The final phase of the Childe bloodline in France is where the Merovingian descendants spread the new Cluniac order of monasticism from the mother abbey in Macon, to the heartland of the daughter priories along the Allier River in Aquitaine.  This 100-year period is marked by the decision of Childegaire IV to enter the ministry, so that the Childe lineage served God as bishops, piors, provosts, and ecclesiastical liaisons.

Thus, the Childe bloodline started in France as hardened warriors that were laden with iniquity.  After 719 years, much of the iniquity of this royal lineage had been weeded out, in so much that several generations had faithfully served God.  Now that the Childe bloodline was ready to proceed with its next major migration into England, the Lord was able to continue the refinement process of his royal lineage until it was ready to embrace the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pages 29-81
"The Ancestry of Alfred Bosworth Child" Mark B. Child, Ph.D./Paul L. Child, D.D.S., 2008 printed by Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

3 comments:

  1. I have examined the Childe family male Y-DNA of this line and found it to be R1b1a2. Which is of Celtic origin. This means the Childe family probably descends from one of the continental Western European Celtic tribes dipersed by the Romans. DNA doesn't lie.

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